ensemble solo piano
duration 20 minutes (five movements)
written spring 2011
commissioned by Timo Andres
premiere June 2011; Bargemusic, Brooklyn
publisher Unsettlement Music



listen to a segment from WQXR's LPR Live featuring Ted Hearne, Timo Andres and Parlor Diplomacy:

additional performances
Yegor Shevtsov, Auditorio de Central Social, Denia, Spain, December 2011
Timothy Andres, (le) Poisson Rouge, New York, May 2012
Timothy Andres, Wigmore Hall, London, June 2012
Timothy Andres, Carlsbad Music Festival, September 2012
Adam Marks, Center for New Music (San Francisco), March 2016
Blair McMillan, American Music Festival (Albany NY), June 2016

When my good friend Timo asked me to write him a piece, I wanted to create something that would exploit his dual identity as a composer and performer, and maybe even pit those sometimes-oppositional forces against each other. What I came up with was Parlor Diplomacy, a piece whose material is at odds with its organization.

Gestures, harmonies and rhythms from Parlor Diplomacy are extracted from the context that might have once given them a different meaning. What could have been an incidental trill is isolated and stuck under stage lights, or a series of falling figures is divorced from its historically-appropriate sequence. The result is a familiar yet unsettling landscape of fragments and echoes.

The first movement is a rhythmically-challenging and somewhat overzealous "trill-tastic" barnburner. 

The second movement is an homage to Brahms' stunning Intermezzo, Op. 119 in B minor, portraying an echo of a ripple of a wave from the heart-breaking motif of a descending line; or perhaps imagining how Brahms might have heard each note falling at its own rate in its own universe, unencumbered by 19th-century rules of harmony and rhythm.

The third movement seeks to recreate the magic of an intermediate piano student (or not-particularly-good classical pianist such as myself) discovering a piece of music for the first time, very slowly, almost awkwardly, separated from many musical parameters necessary for a succesful performance yet somehow still uncovering and preserving some of music's essential beauty, for the ears of only the performer.

The fourth movement comes closest to respecting classical rules of form and development, beginning with a ground bass and later developing material in a style that owes much to a typical theme-and-variations. While dissonances in harmony and rhythm firmly place this music in a contemporary historical context, its method of presenting itself -- that is, the preservation of the grammar as well as the sounds of classical music -- makes it the most traditional of all the movements.

As Wikipedia creates a "disambiguation" page to help sort similar-sounding entries into a meaningful catalog, the final movement ambiguizes gestures by separating them from any grid or hierarchy that might help clarify their musical role. It is a pithy collection of cadences going nowhere.


listen to a recording by Timo Andres



Coloring Book (2015, 30 min.)
vocal octet
The Source (2014, 65 min.)
7 instruments, 4 voices
Sound from the Bench (2014, 40 min.)
mixed choir with 2 electric guitars and percussion
Partition (2010, 20 min.)
mixed choir with full orchestra
Katrina Ballads (2007, 60 min.)
11 instruments, 5 voices


Dispatches (2015, 18 min.)
large orchestra
Respirator (2015, 13 min.)
chamber orchestra
Stem (2013, 25 min.)
large orchestra
Law of Mosaics (2012, 30 min.)
string orchestra
First World (2012, 7 min.)
large chamber orchestra
Erasure Scherzo (2012, 6 min.)
large orchestra
Word for Word (2011, 10 min.)
large orchestra
Build a Room (2010, 20 min.)
concerto for trumpet and orchestra
Patriot (2007, 9 min.)
large orchestra


DaVZ23BzMH0 (2016, 7 min.)
solo cello, with electronics
Parlor Diplomacy (2011, 20 min.)
solo piano
Nobody's (2010, 4 min.)
solo violin

CHAMBER MUSIC (2-5 instruments)

The Answer to the Question That Wings Ask (2016, 11 min.)
string quartet and narrator
Furtive Movements (2013, 14 min.)
cello and percussion
Interlude for Fingers (2013, 4 min.)
two vibraphones
Licorice Men (2011, 8 min.)
electric guitar quartet
Thaw (2009, 12 min.)
percussion quartet
Vessels (2008, 10 min.)
violin, viola, piano
Ghostspace (2009, 8 min.)
accordion, electric guitar, piano, drums
Crib Dweller (2007, 8 min.)
bass clarinet, trumpet, horn, trombone, elec. guitar
Warning Song (2006, 7 min.)
voice and cello, with electronics
23 (2005, 8 min.)
flute, horn, elec. guitar, piano, drums
One of Us, One of Them (2005, 8 min.)
piano and percussion
Forcefield (2004, 5 min.)
viola and vibraphone

CHAMBER MUSIC (6-13 instruments)

For the love of Charles Mingus (2016, 9 min.)
6 violins
Baby [an argument] (2016, 11 min.)
10 instruments
By-By Huey (2014, 10 min.)
6 instruments (vln, vc, fl, bcl, pno, perc)
"The Cage" Variations (2014, 20 min.)
6 instruments (fl, cl/bcl, vln, vc, pno, perc) with baritone solo
Crispy Gentlemen (2012, 15 min.)
7 instruments (fl/picc, cl/bcl, vln, vla, vc, pno, perc)
But I Voted for Shirley Chisholm (2012, 8 min.)
11 instruments, with electronics
Randos (2012, 8 min.)
7 instruments (L'Histoire septet)
Cutest Little Arbitrage (2011, 12 min.)
6 instruments (2 sax, trombone + rhythm section)
Is it Dirty (2010, 8 min.)
16 instruments with 2 singers
(alternate versions for 10 and 6 instruments)
Eyelid Margin (2009, 12 min.)
10 instruments (brass quintet + 5 double-reeds)
Snowball (2008, 6 min.)
8 instruments (bcl, tpt, tbn, vln, acc, egtr, pno, dr)
7 instruments (alt. version for L'Histoire septet)
Illuminating the Maze (2008, 15 min.)
6 instruments (tpt, hn, tbn, egtr, pno, dr)
Music from "Body Soldiers" (2008, 10 min.)
5 instruments with singer
Cordavi and Fig (2007, 8 min.)
13 instruments
Antiphon (2003, 8 min.)
9 instruments (3 cl, bcl, 3 tpt, tbn, pno)


Coloring Book (2015, 30 min.)
Consent (2014, 7 min.)
Ripple (2012, 10 min.)
Privilege (2009, 14 min.)
Mass for St. Mary’s (2008, 10 min.)

Music for youth choir:
Room for Something (2011, 8 min.)
Away (2010, 6 min.)
Because (2006, 6 min.)
Murder on the Road in Alabama (2003, 6 min.)


Intimacy and Resistance (2010, 5 min.)
voice and piano
Charleston Songbook (2008, 20 min.)
voice and piano w/ lead sheets
I Remember (2007, 8 min.)
for three sopranos, or one soprano w/ electronics
I Carry Your Heart (2007, 5 min.)
voice and piano


Hand Eye (2015)
New Dances for the League of David (2014) 
You're Causing Quite a Disturbance (2013)
R WE WHO R WE (2013)
Histories (2012)